Local consumers can be forgiven for feeling inundated with all the come-ons and enticements that have been flying around for the last several days. Sales fliers, email blitzes, Facebook posts and, yes, advertisements in this very newspaper have been competing for a chunk of your cash, and it can be tempting to just tune it all out.
But it’s worth stopping for a moment to consider what it all means. After all, one person’s crass commercialism is another person’s livelihood. Shop Local Saturday, an initiative put forward by American Express, aims to shine a light on mom-and-pop shops around the country for whom this weekend can be the make-it-or-break-it point of their fiscal year.
We’re fortunate to have many local businesses of long standing, run by dedicated entrepreneurs who know and love their loyal customers, and have found a niche that enables them to survive in a world where competition isn’t limited to the shop next door.
We could bemoan the demise of Bresee’s and other repositories of many fond holiday shopping memories. And there’s no doubt that the area has lost some stores it once treasured. But that doesn’t mean our Main Streets are dead — or even dying.
There is a fresh crop of new businesses out there — so many that we cannot list them all. New signs and storefronts may have caught your eye on the way to work or to shop, or you may have heard about a new store from a friend or a family member. Or you may have heard of a shop in a nearby town for several years, but never managed to stop in and check it out.
Well, this is your chance. If you think you know all about what local business has to offer, we challenge you to test those assumptions on Saturday and see for yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. If you’re already well-acquainted with the small businesses in your own community, take a drive to a neighboring town and see what’s new there.
While it’s true that the “big box” stores individually employ more people than smaller local shops, it has been shown that the money spent at local businesses tends to stay in the local economy longer, which is good news for all of us. Best of all, supporting small businesses is a tangible way of saying “yes” to the type of community we want to live in — one where Main Street has a future as bright as its past.